Wed, Aug 15, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Andy Chan pans Beijing in address

AFP, HONG KONG

Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, speaks during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents` Club (FCC) in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Hong Kong independence activist Andy Chan (陳浩天) yesterday attacked China as an empire trying to “annex” and “destroy” the territory in a no-holds barred speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which Beijing wanted cancelled.

Chan, who leads the tiny Hong Kong National Party, said Beijing was semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s “colonial master.”

“We are a nation that is quickly being annexed and destroyed by China,” Chan told a packed audience.

He said he had been under increased “surveillance” by groups of people that he did not know, who had been following him and knocking on his family’s door to take pictures of them in the lead-up to the speech.

Hong Kong enjoys freedom of speech and assembly unseen on the mainland under a handover agreement between Britain and China, but Beijing has become increasingly intolerant of any mention of independence for Hong Kong as Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) emphasizes territorial integrity as key to China’s resurgence.

Rival protesters gathered outside the FCC, with pro-independence activists clashing with police, saying they had been given no space for their rally, while dozens of pro-Beijing supporters chanted slogans including “Gas the spies!”

The lunch address — titled Hong Kong Nationalism: A Politically Incorrect Guide to Hong Kong under Chinese Rule — drew objections from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs ministry and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), as fears grow that freedom of speech in the territory is increasingly under attack.

The club stood by its decision to go ahead with the event, saying that the views of different sides in any debate must be heard.

Chan called on Britain and the US to help Hong Kong, and said Taiwan was an inspiration for his party as it had gone from a dictatorship to a democracy.

The Hong Kong government yesterday said that advocating independence contravened the territory’s Basic Law.

“It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for any person to openly promote and advocate the independence of Hong Kong,” a spokesman said. “As such, it is inappropriate and unacceptable for any organization to provide a public platform to espouse such views.”

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